When God Takes Away

138261Some time ago, I posted one of my favourite segments from the book Stepping Heavenward, by Elizabeth Prentiss. This has been a hugely influential book in my life, and I’d like to share another section that I copied out into my diary several years ago.

‘God does nothing arbitrary. If He takes away your health, for example, it is because He has some reason for doing so; and this is true of everything you value; and if you have real faith in Him, you will not insist on knowing the reason. If you find, in the course of daily events, that your self-consecration was not perfect – that is, that your will revolts at His will – do not be discouraged, but fly to your saviour and stay in His presence until you obtain the spirit in which He cried “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: Nevertheless not my will but Yours be done.”(Luke 22:42)

Every time you do this it will be easier to do it; every such consent to suffer will bring you nearer and nearer to Him; and in this nearness to Him you will find such peace, such blessed, sweet peace as will make your life infinitely happy, no matter what may be its mere outside condition.’

I hope this inspires convicts and fills you with hope in the way in which it did for me. I can attest to the truth of these words. Our God is faithful. He does nothing arbitrary.

Advertisements

Truth that Surpasses a Bed of Flowers

Kamille und Mohn am Wegrand im Sommer

Scarcely have I read a passage that resonated so deeply both with the objections of my own heart and my desire to hear truth, as this one from Stepping Heavenward:

‘Having been pardoned by your God and Saviour, the next thing you have to do is show your gratitude for this infinite favour by consecrating yourself entirely to Him, body, soul and spirit. This is the least you can do. He has bought you with a price, and you are no longer your own.

“But,” you may reply, “This is contrary to my nature. I love my own way. I desire ease and pleasure; I desire to go to heaven, but I want to be carried thither on a bed of flowers. Can I not give myself so far to God as to feel a sweet sense of peace with Him, and be sure of final salvation, and yet, to a certain extent, indulge and gratify myself? If I give myself entirely away to Him and lose all ownership of myself, He may deny me many things I greatly desire. He may make my life hard and wearisome, depriving me of all that now makes it agreeable.”

But, I reply, this is no matter of parley and discussion; it is not optional with God’s children whether they will pay Him with a part of the price they owe Him and keep back the rest. He asks, and He has a right to ask, for all you have and all you are.’

Stepping Heavenward. Elizabeth Prentiss. P86-86

A Tribute to my (almost) Famous Brother

jordanI remember when I first ‘discovered’ my brother’s voice. My parents (having attended his school performances) had been raving about it for some time, but my only experience of this ‘amazing’ singing voice was limited to hearing him in the bathroom.

I thought it was all a bit overrated.

One afternoon, about eight years ago, I was sitting with a group at church ready to begin rehearsals for a special Christmas musical we were doing. My brother had been asked to do a solo, and before he sang, a friend asked me whether he could actually sing. My sisterly loyalty assured them that he could, but when he opened his mouth, I was as surprised as everyone else. He really could sing!

He went on to study at the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music, and towards the end of his degree he was asked to join the Adelaide Chamber Singers. I knew this was quite an offer, but I don’t think anyone realized quite how prestigious they were until this week.

ACS has been touring Europe for the past two weeks, and after performing at Musica Sacre a Roma and winning not only both of their categories, but also the grand prize, they travelled on to Wales to perform at the prestigious Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. They won in their category and were invited to perform for ‘Choir of the World.’ I waited anxiously through the night for the results. Finally at 8am I got the text: We’ve won Choir of the World!

Congratulations to the whole group, and best wishes as they continue on to perform in Austria.

Their performances in the Eisteddfod can be seen here and here. My brother is on the far left in the first song. For those of you living in the UK, he was also interviewed on the BBC. Perhaps you saw him!?1005595_10151536952192862_929999848_n

A few things you shouldn’t say to a childless woman

Below is a condensed version of an article from The Age today that I thought was worth posting.

It is so important that we don’t make the assumption that people always get to choose their path in life.

If you’d like to read the full article, you can find it here.

A few things you shouldn’t say to a childless woman

Wendy Squires May 04, 2013

Photo Credit: Kylie Pickett

Not all women can have babies or want to have babies. Photo: Kylie Pickett

There are two words for the woman who reached over the table, grabbed my hand and in a consolatory tone announced, ”It’s a tragedy you never got around to having children. It’s the most wonderful thing a woman can do.”

Those words are ”shut” and ”up” (the printable response) or, more charitably, ”think” and ”first”. Because it doesn’t take Freud to work out this statement was patronising, assumptive and just plain insensitive.

…I wanted to thump her. Hard. Not just for me, but for all childless women. I’m talking about sisters on IVF; the ones who can’t carry to term; those who’ve suffered stillbirth or the loss of a child; the infertile; those with infertile partners; the ones hoping and waiting on a committed relationship; the ambivalent; the never intended to and don’t feel the need to justify the fact.

Most of the childless women I know do find peace with their circumstances, even if it takes some time. Until, that is, someone comes along and demands their curiosity itch be scratched as to why no kids or, worse, declares you emotionally or spiritually unfulfilled with uncalled for comments such as the one I endured.

I believe children are a gift and not a given in life, and those who receive should be grateful. They should not be offering from on high ”Oh, it is such a pity”, ”a tragedy”, ”you would have loved it”, consolations to those without – even if well intended. People need to stop and think what they are really saying to another with ”you don’t know love until you have a child”, ”I wasn’t complete until I had kids”, ”you are nothing without family” or the deplorable ”don’t you like children?”

A friend of mine who is a well-known celebrity understands this. I was watching when she was interviewed on TV once. The male host skipped through her bio with the clanger, ”You decided to choose career over family …” I will never forget my friend’s face, frozen in a smile that hid the angry tears I knew were welling. I was aware she had not chosen career over family as he so rudely surmised, but that she had miscarried her much-wanted baby late term and was told she would never have another as a result. Like most women there was a backstory to her situation, one that didn’t need ignorant supposition to aggravate.

I was with a girlfriend who had recently been told to give up on IVF and witnessed her pain when the ”you don’t know love until you have a child” remark was dropped at a party…

The simple fact – not that it is anyone’s damn business in the first place – is that most childless women today feel the decision was taken out of their hands through lack of financial and emotional security. According to a study in Australia’s Journal of Population Health, many childless women in their 30s want to have children, but can’t due to reasons ”beyond their control” such as not having a partner, stable relationship, or partner that wants children.

Perhaps in future when judging another woman on her life choices or publicly applauding your own, these statistics should be kept in mind. Not all women are awarded the same opportunities in life and not all women want or need them. Surely we can all agree on mutual respect and consideration of circumstance as a safe middle ground.

Saturday Age columnist Wendy Squires is a journalist, editor and author. Twitter: @Wendy_Squires